c.1969 Ossie Clark Black Moss Crepe Dress w Bishop Sleeves, Button Front & Dog Ear Collar
In 1968 Ossie Clark was designing his own couture line and also designing pieces for Alice Pollock for her Quorum Boutique. The Radley company approached Alice to find out of she could convince Ossie to design a top of the market collection that they would produce and sell to various boutiques and department stores. Dresses like this were the result of that collaboration. Even with this early version of 'ready to wear' the pieces that were made were still never produced in vast quantities and certainly nowhere near whet we think of today as RTW. as gar as quantities. I have had the twin of this dress in the shop before and always love finding one of these. It is a classic Ossie design and one of Ossie's most famous and recognizable creations. A version in ivory is held in the Victorian and Albert Museum. Lily Sullivan wore a version and you can see how it is transforms once on the body and especially if you wear it with the buttons left open like she did. Those shots give you a great idea of just how fabulous the dress looks like on.
The design of this dress seems so simple when you see it on a hanger and yet it still retains the flow and drape that he was known for. His signature sexuality that he worked into his pieces is displayed in that ultra low front plunge if you choose to wear it open and buttoned. What I really love about this particular style is the ability to fully button it. When you do, it had an almost puritanical feel and you are fully covered, but somehow he still managed to make even that feel sexual. The buttons have been covered in the same moss crepe as the dress is made from. They run from the top of the neck all the way to the waist so you can control just how plunged it is. An attached tie wraps around and ties to give you some the shape and definition through the waist. The skirt flows from under there to cascade to the ground. It widens out quite a bit by the time it nears the hem and there is a wonderful amount of volume that flows around you when you move. This is balanced out by huge bishop cut sleeves that puff up above each cinched wrist. More moss crepe covered buttons close each wrist and there is even an extra button sewn into an inner hem. I own one of these myself and it will always be in my collection and I can tell you from personal experience that it is a dress that you will wear over and over. It easily goes from day to night and it can be worn to feel very sexy or more covered. It is in its original uncut length which is hard to find with many Ossie pieces you now see out there for sale. Excellent condition.
Unlined and slips over the head to wear with attached ties at the waist. It buttons down the front. Each cuff has two fabric covered buttons at the wrist. An extra button is sewn on an inner seam. There is the slightest sense of pressing to some of the seams. The easy cut should fit a variety of sizes
Neck when buttoned: 14"
Sleeves: 29" but come up when cuffs are buttoned
Shoulders: no defined seam
Bust: to 20" flat across from side seam to side seam
Waist: to 18" flat across from side seam to side seam and can be defined by the attached tie
Hips: to 22" flat across from side seam to side seam
Length: 61" from neck to hem
Modern Sizing Equivalent: SML-LRG
Reference Photos: (1) 1969-1974 Ossie Clark Dress in the V&A Collection. / (2-4) Lily Sullivan at the Inaugural Museum of Applied Arts and Sciences (MAAS) Ball in Sydney, February 2018.
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